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Chelsea list Zouma for loan to make room for Southampton’s £50m-man

Glancing ahead briefly ahead to next season, Chelsea are looking full up already in terms of numbers necessary in central defense to provide proper squad depth for Antonio Conte’s first foray into Europe as Chelsea boss.

In addition to the current starting trio of Gary Cahill, David Luiz, and César Azpilicueta, Conte will have the likes of Nathan Aké and Kurt Zouma available, while young Andreas Christensen is expected to return from his two-year loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach and challenge straight away for a starting spot. (And that’s without considering the likes of Kenneth Omeruo and Tomáš Kalas, or the less heralded Michael Hector and Matt Miazga even.)

But that’s looking just in terms of numbers and not necessarily skill and quality. Chelsea are supposedly looking to upgrade over the summer and have identified Southampton’s £50m-rated Virgil van Dijk as the prime target. Van Dijk’s injury a few months ago has dampened these rumors, but as per the Telegraph’s Matt Law, Chelsea are still very much on this path. However, with Van Dijk and Christensen both coming in and so far only one, John Terry, set to leave, Chelsea have a surplus of at least one player.

Assuming Aké doesn’t leave (and there have been and surely will be rumors linking him with Bournemouth and a few others), the short straw will apparently fall to Kurt Zouma who’s flattered to deceive so far in his return from major knee surgery. Zouma needs lots of proper gametime to rediscover his prior promise and that gametime would probably be much easier to get while out on loan.

Sending Zouma out will not look great on the surface (won’t be as bad as a potential Batshuayi loan, in fairness), but it may be exactly what he needs for his own development and future, while also freeing up a spot for Chelsea to splash the cash for win-now help.

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